King ready to lead ACCS

Published 12:05 am Saturday, June 23, 2012

David King will be the headmaster and the head football coach at Adams County Christian School starting this fall. King is a 1987 ACCS graduate.

NATCHEZ — David King said he thinks he was selling himself short just being a football coach.

After 14 seasons at Trinity Episcopal that include a 140-41 overall record, a 28-7 record in postseason play, five South State championships and four state championships, he said was ready for the next chapter in his life.

As the new headmaster and head football coach at Adams County Christian School, King said there were two major factors in his move to ACCS — his love for his alma mater and the chance to oversee an entire school.

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“My dad told me this day would come, and coaching wasn’t fulfilling everything I had,” King said. “I woke up one morning, and the thought of my grandkids just thinking I was a football coach was a little bit more than I could stomach.”

King, a 1987 graduate of ACCS, officially took over for Buddy Wade as headmaster at the school June 1, and he said the transition has gone as smoothly as he could have hoped.

Reflecting at Trinity

King said he could never repay the Trinity family for the many wonderful memories and has nothing but good feelings for the Saints faithful.

“I’ll always be a Saint, and the people I met there are like family to me, and they treated me like family every day,” King said. “I’m such a lucky guy to have had that opportunity.

“Ninety-five percent of them supported my decision. They know this honestly was a calling. It’s been as smooth a transition you could possibly have in a small town.”

Even with four state championships, King said his fondest memory of Trinity was a season that saw unexpected success, even if no titles were won.

“In 2004, we had just moved up to Double-A, and we had 13 players,” King said. “We went 6-5, and that was something I look back and say that it was unbelievable what we accomplished that year. We overcame so much that I’ll never forget that.

“Championships are fun, but I’m smart enough to know that 20 years from now, nobody is going to remember those championships except for my players and me.”

King also said his time at Trinity did not come without regrets. He said during his first five or six years as head coach, he emphasized winning too much, but wised up as his career went on.

“I wanted to be the best coach in the history of Mississippi and had all these personal goals,” King said. “Honestly, after I won my second state championship, I woke up and realized that it hadn’t changed me a bit. After that, it became about the players, and that’s when I enjoyed it more.”

The transition

King said he felt at peace about leaving Trinity for ACCS — that he felt like it’s what God wanted him to do — but he admitted that the transition wasn’t easy for him emotionally.

“It was very gut-wrenching, but it was also to the point where, had I stayed at Trinity, I probably would have lost a little bit of the fire, and I didn’t want to do that,” King said.

“I’ve seen coaches stay at places too long, and I owed it to myself, ACCS and Trinity to move on. It’s been a smooth transition, but it’s been very tough.”

King said it was especially tough watching his players at Trinity the last three months of the school year, knowing how much he’d miss them.

“Those last three months I had to look at those boys (were tough),” King said. “A lot of them don’t understand because they’re kids, and I understand that.”

King said he was approached by ACCS in the spring about possibly becoming head football coach and headmaster. It wasn’t the first time ACCS had ever offered him the head coaching job, but this time, the timing was right, he said.

King’s senior football portrait from the fall of 1986.

“There were several times I was approached by ACCS patrons, but the timing wasn’t right,” King said. “I was not ready. I had goals to finish, and then I looked up and my son (Kent) was a junior and senior, and I didn’t want to push it.”

King’s move to ACCS was first announced in an e-mail sent out by Trinity Episcopal Feb. 21. In that e-mail, Trinity’s acting headmaster, the Rev. Brandt Dick, said the headmaster and head football coach at Trinity would never be the same person. King said that policy by Trinity had no bearing on his decision to leave the school.

“Absolutely not,” King said. “I have never inquired nor would I have ever accepted the headmaster job at Trinity. As much as I love Trinity, it’s a whole different position than at any other place.”

The headmaster position

King said, though he’s not great at a lot of things, he’s a born leader.

“Now I’m in control of a whole school and all facets of the school,” King said.

Since joining ACCS, the school has spent $20,000 to upgrade the campus, $10,000 in repairs to the swimming pool and $30,000 on a new computer lab, King said.

“These are decisions I’m excited about,” King said.

King said everyone’s been on board with his decisions, and he and the ACCS family are excited about where the future’s heading.

“The bottom line is, this school has needed something to feel good about for a long time, and I feel like I’m that answer,” King said. “I’m back home, and I can tell you, I feel unbelievable change is about to take place, and everyone on this campus does.”

King said the school has work to do academically, but most of that is simply public relations work.

“These teachers are every bit as good as any I’ve been around,” King said. “It’s a PR thing, and I’m a PR guy, so we’ll change that very quickly.”

Academically, King said his vision is to show quantitative improvement within the first several years on the job.

“I want (ACCS) to be second-to-none,” King said. “My goals are simple: Improve the ACT score by two or three points in the first three or four years, and I want people not to recognize this campus in two years.”

Headmaster and football coaching duties might be a bit overwhelming when paired up, but King said he’s gotten some good advice. Bill Hurst, headmaster and football coach at Centreville Academy, and Jason Brabham, headmaster and football coach at Oak Forest Academy, are two people King said do a great job balancing both jobs.

“Talking to them, it all starts with having good teachers,” King said. “The smart boards and computer labs will come, but you have to have great teachers. The thing that blew me away was seeing how good the teachers here are.”

King also said a good administrative staff is key if you want to do both jobs.

“You better have some great people around you,” King said. “I have an unbelievable infrastructure underneath me right now, from guidance counselors to business managers, an elementary school principals and a high school principal. These are top-notch people.”

Restoring ACCS athletics

King played under former ACCS head coach Bobby Marks from 1984-87, and his goal is to take ACCS athletics to great places.

“Athletically, the kids here are very similar to when I started (at Trinity),” King said. “They’re just like kids everywhere else. They have to meet expectations, and expectations are about to be higher than they’ve ever been here, and I feel strongly they’ll meet those expectations.”

Taking ACCS there will simply be a matter of hard work, just like it was at Trinity, King said.

“I’m going to outwork everyone, and we have a great coaching staff, and we’re going to work as hard as we can,” King said. “It is what it is — we’re going to be good in athletics.”

Being able to bring assistant coach Richy Spears was a key factor in King accepting the ACCS job.

“Richy and I work so well together,” King said. “He knows my strength and weaknesses, and I know his. I would have struggled with whether or not to come over here if I couldn’t bring Richy.

“Richy and me are the same, and our philosophy is like Coach Hurst’s — losing hurts more than winning feels good. It’s a weird cliché, but that’s just the way we think of losing.”

Assistant coach Rudy Wilson and strength and conditioning coach Bill James were also important to have at ACCS, King said.

“Rudy’s been with me every year except for two in my 14 years at Trinity, and he’s like my big brother,” King said.

“Bill is the most energetic 60-year-old I’ve ever met. He loves the kids, and I’ve never seen a man that does the things that he does basically free of charge.”

While some might draw a dividing line between academics and athletics, King said the two work hand-in-hand.

“(Academics) is the basis of your whole existence,” King said. “You can’t survive without a college degree now, and we’re pushing college preparatory school at ACCS.

“As far as athletics, you learn to play with a team, and you have to do that at work. You learn discipline, hard knocks and overcoming obstacles, and that’s what you do every day in the workplace, so they go hand-in-hand.”

The bottom line

Academic and athletic excellence is the easiest way to sum up King’s vision for ACCS, and he said the Rebel family should know that exciting times are ahead.

“I want ACCS to know that we’re going places that you’ve never dreamed of going, and get ready to enjoy the ride,” King said.

“When I walk out here every day, I have parents come by, and they’re feeling this, too. This is about to be an unbelievable experience for these kids.”